Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan for not supporting President Donald Trump’s agenda and declared he was "absolutely" going to war with them.
McConnell and Ryan “do not want Donald Trump’s populist, nationalist economic agenda to be implemented,” Bannon told CBS’ “60 Minutes,” in an interview airing Friday. “It’s as obvious as night follows day.”
Bannon also agreed that he was “absolutely” going to war with the “Republican establishment,” whom he accused of “trying to nullify the 2016 election.”
“That’s a brutal fact we have to face,” he said.
Bannon’s sharp remarks represent an escalating intra-party battle within the GOP that has sometimes pitted Trump against the party’s most influential leaders in Congress.
Bannon said he was attacking Republican leaders because “they’re not going to help you unless they’ve been put on notice they’re going to be held accountable if they don’t support the president of the United States.”
“Right now there’s no accountability,” he continued. “They do not support the president’s program, it’s an open secret on Capitol Hill, everybody in this city knows it.”
Bannon also recalled from “one of the first meetings” he participated in with McConnell and Trump, where he said the Kentucky Republican ripped the administration's “drain the swamp” motto.
“He basically says, ‘I don't want to hear any more of this drain the swamp talk,’” Bannon said, adding that McConnell told him, “I can’t hire any smart people because everybody is all over them for reporting requirements, and the pay, etcetera, you’ve got to back off that.”
In another portion of the interview, released on Thursday, Bannon accused the Catholic Church of defending DACA only because it relies on “illegal aliens to fill the churches” and said Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, had “an obligation to resign.”
The full interview will air Sunday on CBS.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus whom the Washington Post reported could be plotting with Bannon to oust Ryan as Speaker, told MSNBC Friday morning that he’d spoken with Bannon within the last 48 hours but denied he was working on a plan to see a new speaker take over.
“We’re laser focused. Not on a leadership change, but making sure that we change Washington D.C.,” Meadows said, adding that “there is no plan” to attempt to replace Ryan.
Bannon, who returned as chairman of Breitbart News after leaving the White House last month, has made no secret of his desire to battle with his political enemies.
Following his White House departure, Bannon, who’d been a central figure in a power struggle over influencing an often unpredictable president, told the Weekly Standard he had his “hands back on my weapons” and vowed “to crush the opposition.”
The feud between Trump and McConnell has also grown, since the party’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare failed. Tensions only worsened this week after Trump struck a deal with Democratic leaders over the debt ceiling, leaving his fellow Republicans reeling.
Trump appeared to take a shot at Republicans on Twitter Friday morning, blasting them again for their health care failure and urging them to "hurry" on tax reform.
"Republicans, sorry, but I've been hearing about Repeal & Replace for 7 years, didn't happen! Even worse, the Senate Filibuster Rule will.......never allow the Republicans to pass even great legislation. 8 Dems control - will rarely get 60 (vs. 51) votes. It is a Repub Death Wish!" he tweeted in a pair of posts.
"Republicans must start the Tax Reform/Tax Cut legislation ASAP. Don't wait until the end of September. Needed now more than ever. Hurry!" he added.